What do Chattanooga and Salida kayakers have in common?

When you need the best equipment... Choose CKS.

What do Chattanooga and Salida kayakers have in common?

Both cities with great whitewater kayaking reputations love Haley Mills as their ambassador.
Upon first impression you have to notice Hayley Mills' million dollar smile.  Add to that winning personality a top-5 finish in Freestyle Kayaking’s World Championships.
Why? This past month Haley Mills placed fifth in freestyle kayaking's most competitive event, the freestyle world kayak championships held in Plattling, Germany. Colorado Kayak Supply caught up with the Team CKS paddler at the downtown Salida Whitewater Park to learn more about her international competition experience. Haley begins describing the world championship experience as a mixture of friends training and hording food together.

“The whole US Team was at the same hotel compliments of Jackson Kayak. We were just dirtbag kayakers training, food was a challenge, and there was this huge buffet. So, I’d eat a dozen croissants. Then we’d go to 5:30 am paddle sesh and return for a second breakfast. There were all kinds of meats I didn’t know what they were, even a spreadable sausage. It was survival mode that evolved to a secret all you can eat and then some. Soon the hotel put up signs, "One sausage and juice each person."

But there it was. This unattended expresso machine, a full buffet, and us a bunch of (high metabolism) athletes with bodies starving for nutrients.”

Hayley Mills trains at the downtown Salida Whitewater Park.  Above she sets up with a surf to execute a high-level wave helix.
Perplexed that bottled water was more expensive than beer Haley laughs about a juicer that poured from a champagne fountain, “Wed’ roll in after the second sesh, they’d see us coming as if,

“Sie kommen!. Die kajakfahrer kommen! Run! Run and hide den saft!”

“They’re coming! The kayakers are coming! Run and hide the juice!”

Several international teams went to a traditional German beer garden where there were liters of beer and park rides, hmm great ideal. Stephen (Wright) and Haley rode the swings in circles. Stephen said, “I feel drunk and I don’t drink.” The Japanese team was pounding beers and Team USA athletes worried the doubly intoxicated rising sun athletes would projectile vomit from the seats immediately in front of them. Haley recalls struggling at a restaurant with Bryan (Kirk) and Clay (Wright), “You gotta eat this steak it’s just $7. Our translation was off and that steak turned out to be steak from the neck of pork… disgusting. Mostly we just pointed at pictures of what we wanted.”

A Brief Observation of an Athlete Still on Fire

Haley moved from Chattanooga to Salida four years ago and travels back east to the Gauley River and Chattanooga annually. She makes certain to give credit to boyfriend Mike Tabares who is now usually SUP surfing as she trains. It doesn’t take a world champion to see she’s got skills. I watched Haley surf the wave, huck her 6’ kayak over small frame, quick move stroke forward then backward to stick a helix. She next bounces backward creating a small window to throw her body upstream and hit backstabs and solid fundamental wave moves. She’s aggressive, just came off peak training and is still on fire.

Chattanooga + Salida = Great Freestyle Training

Looking upstream Hayley Mills begins the rotation and body huck commitment to throw a "Backstab." A backstab is executed from a backwards surf transitioning the kayak vertically to whip or cutback to a forward surf.  Impressive to watch!
Haley began freestyle competing only three years ago and attributes much of her success to the local Colorado whitewater parks and Chattanooga’s nearby Ocoee and Rock Island play features. Back then she could not have believed she’d be experiencing an opportunity to medal at the big show. Although, this season Haley has medaled in every US event she attends, and that places any freestyler in serious contention for a Worlds podium appearance. The BV and Salida parks gave her the opportunity to really master moves. “It’s awesome to walk five blocks to amazing features, you can excel learning all of the moves. Back east I was a troll (Hell Hole is under a bridge) at the Ocoee. This year the Ocoee dam broke and it ran high at 1600 CFS all the time.” You can imagine Haley working the hole daily honing her skills. That dedication paid off. Congratulations Haley Mills! We’re all proud of you.

Products Haley Mills recommends:

  • Wavesport Project X- Do you live near a great play hole or whitewater park? If so, then your going to love the highly anticipated Project X. Moves like learning to loop or cartwheel become easy. And advanced tricks like the McNasty and an Airscrew are now attainable.
  • Sweet Protection Helmets- Sweet couldn't have picked a ahhmm "Sweet'r name." And with an emphasis on best quality and style the name is fitting. Sweet is the best of the best when it comes to gear and style.
  • Adventure Technology Paddles- Have you ever held an AT Paddle? Ohhhh... feels so good with that carbon fiber glassed oval'd hand shape. That feel transfers to learning to feel the water and your paddle placements. Check out an AT.
  • Immersion Research Drytops and Accessories- Ir has invested years of quality time in the water to build the most reliable whitewater gear in the industry. Whether you need underlayers, river shorts padded extra in those kayaker needy spots, or to stay dry and warm... check out Immersion Research's product line.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like reading:

When you need the best equipment... Choose CKS.

By David Hughes
CKS Content Media Specialist Owner- Pucon Kayak Hostel, Your economical Chile destination with beds, kayak rentals, and beginner to advanced rivers. "Keep Kayaking." Director- Huge Experiences' New River Academy, "And that has made all the difference.

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